Team India skipper Rohit Sharma and talismanic Virat Kohli's fans were involved in a bitter war of words on social media, days ahead of the side's World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia in England next week.
The Rohit Sharma-led Team India and the Australian side captained by Pat Cummins would compete for the ultimate prize in Test cricket at the Oval in London in the United Kingdom from June 7-11.
The tournament is vital for India as the South Asian side has failed to win an ICC event since 2013. A decade ago, the then-MS Dhoni-led side stole the Champions Trophy title from England's hands in Birmingham.
The ugly Twitter exchange between fans of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli came after a user on the microblogging platform highlighted the latter's continuous failures in Test cricket, blaming him for India's unsuccessful campaign in the last World Test Championship final against New Zealand in 2021.
During the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship from 2019-21, India topped the table to qualify for the title clash versus the Kiwis, but couldn't end their losing streak in major tournaments against Kane Williamson and his men.
Virat Kohli, the captain of Team India at the time, could only manage 44 and 13 with the bat in the first and second essays.
Unfortunately for the 34-year-old cricketer, all of these were highlighted on the highly influential messaging app, leading to his mockery over there.
With Rohit Sharma supporters targeting Virat Kohli, the Delhi-born batter's admirers hit back at them, slamming them for undermining his credentials as a leader and batter when he took charge as captain in 2014 before inspiring his troops to become the No.1 team in the world.
India has won 10 out of 18 matches in WTC cycle(2021-2023).
•Rohit Sharma's Average- 52
•Virat Kohli's Average-24
Rohit Sharma has carried the Indian batting line-up while Virat Kohli has zero impact.
But Kohli's PR is hyping him as if he has taken India to the WTC final.😭… pic.twitter.com/a2Nd4uGdpW
— Jyran (@Jyran45) May 31, 2023
Because Rohit skips overseas Tests and only plays Test Matches against C grade teams 🤣🤣
— Aarav (@sigma__male_) May 31, 2023
Itne test mace jeetvaye and bol raha satyanash kr dia 🤣🤣 avg kohli hater
— Kushal Yadav (@Its_KYtweets) June 1, 2023
Bhak Madarcho.. ,he was in his worst form even then only few runs less from Nohit Sharma, complete the full statistics of unfit Montu Rohit Sharma and then compare where Virat Kohli has taken Test cricket.
— ANKIT VERMA (@ANKITVE15773821) June 1, 2023
Rohit sharma test run =3,379
Virat kohli test run = 8416
— Narendra 702 patidar (@702Patidar) June 1, 2023
For the uninitiated, Virat Kohli ended his over three-year drought for a Test century against Australia in Ahmedabad in March. Though it was his 28th hundred in the five-day version of the sport, he touched the three-figure milestone for the first time in over a thousand days.
Before his ton against Australia in Gujarat, Virat Kohli last scored a century in the whites in November 2019 in India's maiden Day/Night Test against Bangladesh at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Speaking about Virat Kohli's recent form, the 34-year-old cricketer scored 639 runs at an average of 53.25, including two tons and six half-centuries in the just-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
But Virat Kohli couldn't succeed in ending RCB's long wait for their first IPL trophy, with the Bengaluru-based franchise getting eliminated from the competition before the playoffs stage.
Meanwhile, according to ex-Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, Virat Kohli would be key to India's fortunes in the WTC final against the Australian Cricket Team.
“The Australian team will be talking about Virat, no doubt about it, and they'll be talking about Pujara. They're the two,” the three-time World Cup winner said on The ICC Review.
“Pujara has been a thorn in their side a lot in the past, and in Australia, and this wicket will potentially be a lot more like an Australian pitch. They know that they'll have to get him early.”
“They also know that Virat over the last few weeks is probably just about back to his absolute best, albeit in T20 cricket.”
“He told me that the feeling he's getting right now is that he's almost back to his best, and that's an ominous warning for the Australians going into a one-off game.”
On the other hand, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar reckoned that Cheteshwar Pujara would be the dangerman for Australia, considering he loves to bat for long hours on the pitch. In the past, the Saurashtra-born veteran batter has given nightmares to Australian bowlers in Australia and India on multiple occasions.
But what could give some solace to Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood is the fact that Cheteshwar Pujara hasn't done relatively well in English conditions and is particularly prone to getting out in the slips, especially during the first five-ten overs of his knock.
“He might not have played at The Oval, he might be in Sussex not too far away from London but he will have kept an eye on what is happening and his inputs will be invaluable as far as the batting unit is concerned or even as far as the captaincy is concerned,” Sunil Gavaskar told Star Sports.
“He will have the captains here as far as the Oval pitch is concerned and don't forget he has also been captaining the team, so he definitely will have worked out quite a few strategies seeing that Steve Smith, the Australian is his teammate at the moment.”
“I think they are going to look at their bat speed. Coming from T20 where the bat speed is very fast to Test cricket where the bat speeds got to be a lot more control, that is something they'll need to do,” the legendary India batter added.
“They'll need to play in England as late as possible to allow for the swing to do it's bit, not to reach out for the ball which often a lot of people make the mistake having played on good pitches.”
“Wherever you play on good pitches, you tend to play through the line, not necessarily half volleys, but in England those deliveries can move just that little bit. So, I think those are the things that as a batter you need to watch out for.”
“As a bowling unit also you'll need to bowl a much fuller length for your new ball, for the bowlers to be able to get the movement in the air as well as after pitching.”
“I think the English conditions are challenging because firstly we are used to play with the sun on our backs. When you are playing in England, often you are playing in conditions where there is no sun, it's a little overcast, the weather is a little bit cooler, so you sometimes wear a jumper.”
“That's something that you know, the Indian player, West Indian players and Sri Lankan players are not really used to so that can be just a little bit of a dampener, little sort of light but you just feel little bit encumbered by that.”
“So, that is one thing and because in these conditions the ball tends to swing in the air not just after pitching which doesn't happen in India and therefore the swing in the air is what sometimes can take you some time to get used to “…and which is a reason people generally when you are going overseas suggest that you should may be play two or three warm-up matches, which will give you a better idea of what to get when you are playing in a test match,” Sunil Gavaskar signed off.